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June 28, 2006

Practicing what we preach turns ugly.

Lobby Three weeks ago, Sullivan Higdon & Sink launched a campaign for our financial client UMB that relies heavily on consumer-generated content. It's our first real foray into CGC. We've learned a few things along the way. For instance, if you've been dealing in CGC for awhile a "bad word filter" may be basic to you. To be honest, we'd never really had a need to build such a filter before. And they are tricky beasts. For awhile, ours was kicking out banned words inside words. If you tried to use a word such as "basement"  the filter would reject the post. Look at the word closely and you'll see why. As is the case with everything, God is in the details.

The campaign is called My Ugly Room and it centers on myuglyroom.com. At the site, registered users upload photos of their ugly rooms and fill out a profile. Other users vote to give the rooms  the "thumbs down.' Each week we give a $100 to a random winner from the top ten ugliest rooms. At the end of the contest, the top ten rooms, as chosen by users of the site, will be placed in a drawing for $10,000 to redecorate. Along the way, we give everyone a chance to redecorate now with a little help from UMB. We've promoted the site in a host of borderless ways, including redecorating some of the bank's lobbies with ugly furniture and signage like the mock-up you see here.

Playing host to the audience and watching them play along has been a lot of fun. Some of the posts have been very clever, and, as the contest has progressed, the photos of nasty rooms have become increasingly entertaining. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by how revealing people have chosen to be about their lives, but, really,  I have been. Lots of "stuff" come out in the messiness of a room. It's great.

It's also been interesting working with the client through the process. Questions such as how many entries do we need to consider ourselves successful? How fast can we expect word-of-mouth to drive traffic? How much is the buzz worth? These are all things we've talked about and I've got to hand it to our client on this. UMB has been very open to experimenting with this campaign, and, in the end, that's been as exciting and gratifying as anything. We've both learned a lot.

Oh, you can play if you want. Unless you have a UMB in your community, you can't win the $10k. However, you can win the weekly $100 prize. Feel free to share something ugly.

File under news from Sullivan Higdon & Sink

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Comments

Looks cool guys. Curious though, considering the Tahoe fallout and raised awareness now to negative feedback, have you had an attempt/influx of any negative CGC to the site, and how is the filter process working out?

Nice solution to the problem of not all people being able to win the grand prize with addition of the $100 one. Keeps it a national, if not global site that way.

One difference is that we're really not dealing with our product on the site. So, that helps. To submit or comment you must be a registered user of the site. We also hold rooms for approval to ensure no one posts pictures of something other than an ugly room. What's nice is that we expect people to say unpleasant things about the rooms. In the world of ugly, bad is good. We prepare the users for that as best we can.

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